Judging a judge
Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, is considering whether to stop blocking a judicial nominee over concerns her appearance at a lesbian commitment ceremony betrayed her legal views on same-sex “marriage.”
Mr. Brownback, in an appearance Nov. 26 on ABC’s “This Week,” said Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet T. Neff should not be disqualified automatically for having attended the ceremony. But Mr. Brownback said it raised doubts in his mind, the Associated Press reports.
“But what I want to know is, what does it do to her look at the law? What does she consider the law on same-sex ‘marriage,’ on civil unions, and I’d want to consider that,” Mr. Brownback said.
President Bush nominated Judge Neff, who has a liberal reputation, to be a U.S. District Court judge as part of a compromise struck with Democrats.
Judge Neff’s nomination is pending before the full Senate. Mr. Brownback has stalled it because of her attendance at the 2002 ceremony in Massachusetts.
“I’m still looking at the Neff situation, and I will in the future,” Mr. Brownback said.
Judge Neff has said she attended as a friend of one of the two women, a longtime neighbor.
She chose not to answer Mr. Brownback’s queries on whether the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex “marriage” or civil unions, saying it would be improper to address questions that might come before her as a federal judge.
Beaten and unpopular, outgoing Alaska Gov. Frank H. Murkowski recently mailed more than 100,000 booklets to voters, telling Alaskans what a good job he did in office, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
The election for governor is long over, and the candidate who whipped Mr. Murkowski in the Republican primary — Sarah Palin — takes over this week. If it seems a little late for damage control, the governor’s office says the 48-page booklet is about setting the record straight and not letting Mr. Murkowski’s many critics write his history.
The booklet is called “A Record of Achievement” and features a photo of Mr. Murkowski on the cover. It cost the state about $20,000 to print and another roughly $20,500 to mail, said Murkowski spokesman John Manly.
The state sent it to about 105,000 households. Other copies went to the state archives, museums, libraries and schools where future historians and researchers can find them and not have to rely on contemporary media accounts of the Murkowski years, the Daily News said.
“We’ve got a good story, and we’re proud to tell it,” said Cheryl Frasca, Mr. Murkowski’s budget chief.
“University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman is offering students an interesting lesson: Never let the law prevail over your own vanity,” the New York Post says in an editorial.
“Just one day after Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed Proposal 2 — aka the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative — thereby ending racial and gender preferences in the state’s public sector, Coleman said she’ll do everything possible to avoid incorporating racial equality into her school’s admissions policies,” the newspaper said.
“ ‘We believe we have the right, indeed the obligation, to complete this process using our existing [racially discriminatory] policies,’ Coleman said, adding, ‘It would be unfair and wrong for us to review students’ applications using two sets of criteria.’
“Bizarre: ‘Two sets of criteria’ is what racial preferences are all about. [. . .]
“In the months preceding Election Day, Michigan Democrats, Republicans and more than 200 special-interest groups joined hands in opposing Prop 2, outspending proponents 3-to-1.
“In the final week, the reform’s supporters ran out of cash altogether, leaving them unable to respond as opponents likened the measure to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
“Still, voters passed Prop 2 by a wide margin — 58 percent for, 42 percent against.
“The lesson? Racial pandering is a political loser — even in blue states like Michigan.”
Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce, Ohio Republican, won re-election Nov. 27 by a margin so slim that a recount will be required.
Unofficial results announced by Franklin County, the last to finish counting absentee and provisional ballots in central Ohio’s 15th District, showed Mrs. Pryce led DemocraticchallengerMaryJoKilroy, aFranklinCountycommissioner,by 1,055 votes.
Mrs. Pryce lost Franklin County, the district’s most populous, but she retained her lead thanks to votes she picked up in two other counties that announced results two weeks ago, Madison and Union, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
The race was one of a handful that had remained unresolved across the country since Election Day, when Democrats took control of Congress.
Mrs. Pryce ended up with 50.2 percent of the vote, compared with 49.8 percent for Mrs. Kilroy in the unofficial totals. An automatic recount is triggered if the difference between the two candidates is less than one-half of one percent.
The national commander of the American Legion called on Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, to apologize for suggesting that American troops would not choose to fight in Iraq if they had other employment options.
“Our military is the most skilled, best-trained, all-volunteer force on the planet,” National Commander Paul A. Morin said Nov. 27. “Like that recently espoused by Sen. John Kerry, Congressman Rangel’s view of our troops couldn’t be further from the truth and is possibly skewed by his political opposition to the war in Iraq.”
According to Mr. Rangel, “If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career, or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq. If there’s anyone who believes these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No bright young individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of some educational benefits.”
Mr. Rangel was responding to a question during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Conservative groups in New Jersey are pushing a proposal that would grant the rights of marriage — but not the title — to homosexuals, siblings and others involved in domestic partnerships, the AP reports.
The plan comes in reaction to a state Supreme Court ruling last month that said same-sex couples inNewJerseyshouldhavethesame rights and benefits as married couples. Whether to call those rights “marriages,” civil unions or something else was left up to lawmakers.
Under the conservatives’ plan, rights would be available to twosomes who are not eligible to marry, said Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council. Besides homosexuals, such couples would include blood relatives, or simply two unmarried friends of the same sex. Unrelated opposite-sex couples, who can legally marry, would not be eligible for the designation.
‘Civil war’ fight
NBC News on Nov. 27 began calling the Iraq conflict a “civil war,” adopting a phrase that President Bush and many other news organizations have avoided, the AP reports.
Matt Lauer said on the “Today” show that “after careful consideration, NBC News has decided that a change in terminology is warranted, that the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas can now be characterized as civil war.”
The Bush administration said Nov. 27 that it does not think Iraq is in a civil war, and that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki does not, either.
“You have not yet had a situation also where you have two clearly defined and opposing groups vying not only for power, but for territory,” White House press secretary Tony Snow said. “What you do have is sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences, and also trying to destabilize a democracy.”
A Dallas businessman has launched a Web site with a single, simple objective: prevent Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from becoming president.
StopHerNow.com aims “to shed light on the REAL Hillary Clinton and the danger she and her ideas pose for America,” proclaims the site created by Dick Collins, a Texas newspaper publisher and Republican activist.
The site features links to news articles and commentary about the former first lady, as well as a humorous animated series, “The Hillary Show.”
The first installment of the cartoon series shows Mrs. Clinton sparring with potential 2008 rival Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat. Mr. Collins says he hopes to continue the series with new episodes reflecting the latest news surrounding Mrs. Clinton’s much-anticipated White House bid.
The cartoon was created by a group of artists who are “a bunch of libertarians, not really political, but they all dislike Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Collins said.
“The Republican Party over the last couple of decades has had the problem of appearing to be a party of anger, and we wanted our effort to be [. . .] one that would deliver a smile,” Mr. Collins tells Robert Stacy McCain of The Washington Times.
Mr. Collins says the site is “a grass-roots effort to define Hillary Clinton. She’s trying to be something that she’s not. She’s attempting to become a centrist Democrat, and in fact she’s an ultraliberal Democrat.”
An automatic recount may be called in Ohio since Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce won re-election by less than one-half of one percent of the vote.